Saturday, October 17, 2009

Colloquy 2009 and a Visit to New Harmony

Images from Colloquy 2009

I had a wonderful week in Indiana, first at Colloquy, then visiting Laura Foster Nicholson in New Harmony. The gathering at St. Meinrad's Guest House has been happening each year for about 14 years, and is a continuation of the gathering that used to happen in Mineral Springs, WI at Ken Colwell's place, The Looms. I was not the only new comer this year, but most of the participants have known each other for years, and this is like a yearly family reunion. Everyone was welcoming and enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about looms and weaving. My talks were well received, and I was able to hear some presentations by others. Brother Kim, who organized the event with the help of Kathy O'Neal (seen above wearing her lovely deflected double cloth scarf), is such a lively person it was hard to get images of him not in motion. He brought a group of us to the Abbey to see some of the vestments. They include some amazing velvets, embroideries, and contemporary woven and constructed garments. I was getting confused between labels such as chasuble and cope, and just focused on the cloth. Brother Kim has woven and sewn some of the garments he showed us, and Murlea Everson, one of the participants, weaves the Bettencourt Collection for Meyer-Vogelpohl.
Seeing some of the vestments at St. Meinrad's Archabby

While we were looking at vestments, some of the others were setting up a three-shaft loom in Brother Kim's studio. His studio has a range of looms that include a computerized dobby and a drawloom. I think visits to other artist's studios are one of my favorite things to do. I also love listening to people talk about their research, especially when they are excited about it. I got to hear Teena Tuenga make a presentation on the weaving she has done exploring color and weave, using parameters presented by George Best during a previous Colloquy. Her presentation really explained why these people gather each year--for friendship, yes--but because they encourage and inspire each other to explore their interests in weaving further. I felt very honored to be asked to talk to them, and to be able to share Colloquy 2009 with them. Plus I feel like I have a dozen new friends.

Brother Kim's weaving studio

Teena Tuenga making a presentation of her research

New Harmony is close to St. Meinrads, so my friend Laura Nicholson, who lives there, came to get me and we had our own form of reunion and textile inspiring discussions. I visited her two years ago, and seriously considering moving there, and once again I found this small modern community built on the memory and ruins of a Utopian community quite fascinating. Main Street, where Laura has her LFN Textile Studio, could be main street in almost any small town USA, except Docey Lewis has her design studio right across the street from Laura's--and how many main streets can boast two brilliant textile designers? When you visit the Harmonist buildings, the Visitors Center/Atheneum is a Richard Meier building, and the Roofless Church is a Philip Johnson building. So you see homage to both the past and the present sitting side by side.

Images of New Harmony, IN

Of course, for me, Laura's studio is the most interesting place in New Harmony. The New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art is housed in the same building and all the works in the current print exhibition are shown on their current webpage. Below you see Laura standing in front of her edition of 20 pin cases (I bought two--one for me and one for a friend). You can also see her in her studio. She didn't really want me to take that picture but I love the activity that so clearly shows on her table. She is a force of creativity, and definitely one of my heroes. I also came home with one of her eye sachets--she said I should put it on my eyes and it will help me relax and sleep (it is full of flax and lavender, I think)--but really just looking at it is a feast for my eyes and will bring me much happiness. You can see all the souvenirs I came home with in the final picture. Interesting that Kathy O'Neal gave me an old ribbon loom shuttle (from Henry Riehl and Sons of Philadelphia) and then I bought my most recent additions to my LFN ribbon collection. I never make anything with these ribbons, just keep amassing them--I want one of every design--and always I bring them to show students. Aren't they beautiful?

Laura Foster Nicholson in front of her printed pin case on left and with her ribbons on right

Souvenirs of my trip include LFN ribbons and a ribbon shuttle


  1. Thank you for sharing about your visit to Colloquy 2009. I went to three or four of them when at The Looms. I remember Bro. Kim as well as Kathy O'Neal who sent me an email about it this year. Hoping to attend next year.

  2. Hi Bhakti... knew I shouldn't have missed it! Sounds like a wonderful time. By the way, thank's for the photo of the "ribbon shuttle"--I have one but didn't know what it was. Someone gave it to me a number of years ago, saying it was for weaving, but didn't know how it was used. Well, I'd never seen anything like it and also didn't know what it was for.
    At least now I have a name for it!

  3. Bhakti, it was wonderful to have you here with you boundless curiosity and challenging conversations. We always have such a fertile time together!